Sri Raghunatha dasa took his birth in the village of Sri Krsnapura in the district of Hooghly. His father's name was Sri Govardhana, whose elder brother was Sri Hiranya dasa. Both of them were respectable wealthy land-holders belonging to the Kayastha caste. Their title, which was given by the King, was "Majumdar" and their yearly income was two million.
In his childhood Sri Raghunatha dasa studied at the house of the priest, Acarya Sri Balarama dasa. Haridasa Thakura was very merciful to Balarama dasa and occasionally visited his house. At these times Raghunatha dasa had the good fortune of relishing Thakura Haridasa's association and listened to philosophical discourses from him.
Sri Raghunatha dasa was the only son in the family of Hiranya and Govardhana and there was no limit to the care and affection which was showered upon him. Though he was brought up just like the son of a king, by the powerful influence of saintly devotees, he realized at a very young age that material existence is temporary and a mood of detachment towards wealth, parents and relatives began to grow within him. Upon hearing the glories of Sri Gauranga and Nityananda, he became extremely eager to have darsana of Their lotus feet. When he heard that Sri Gaurasundara had taken sannyasa and was leaving Nadia forever, he rushed madly to the home of Advaita Acarya in Santipura to meet the Lord.
Seeing Raghunatha fall at His feet, Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu could understand that this was His dear most eternal associate, and He embraced Raghunatha firmly. Crying, Sri Raghunatha appealed to the Lord, "I will also go with you." But the Lord replied that He would not take him along at that time, yet upon His return from Vrndavana, Raghunatha should, under any pretext, come to Nilacala to see Him.
In CC. Anyta lila, Sixth Chapter, there is a narration of how Sri Raghunatha dasa was arrested by the Nawab's men and his subsequent release from the bondage of family life. In that chapter there is also a description of the Panihati festival, as well as Raghunatha's pastimes in Jagannatha Puri with Sri Gaurasundara.
Sri Raghunatha dasa Gosvami passed his days in the highest happiness, continually bathing in the shower of Mahaprabhu's mercy. But upon the disappearance of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, Raghunatha's world grew dark. In separation from their Lord, the devotees hearts burned with anguish. Raghunatha dasa also burned in that fire of separation, but taking the order of Mahaprabhu on his head, he went to Sri Vrndavana.
Previously Sri Sanatana, Sri Rupa, Sri Gopala Bhatta, Sri Raghunatha Bhatta, Sri Lokanatha, Sri Kasisvara, and Sri Bhugarbha Gosvami had already gone to Vrndavana and were living there by the order of the Lord.
Though they all burned in the fire of separation, they pacified themselves by gathering together and discussing and writing the conclusions of the teaching of Mahaprabhu. It was the dawn of a golden age in Vraja. Sri Vallabha Acarya also visited Vrndavana at that time.
Sri Raghunatha used to reside at Sri Radhakunda. At that time Radhakunda had not yet been excavated, though Raghunatha often meditated upon how to beautify the kunda. Once a wealthy merchant walked the long, difficult road to Sri Badarikasrama. With great devotion he worshiped Sri Badarinarayana and offered a large portion of his wealth in charity. That night Sri Badarinarayana appeared to him in a dream and said, "You should go to the village near Vraja named Arit-grama where you will find my devotee, Sri Raghunatha dasa Gosvami. To him you should deliver all your wealth. If he refuses to accept it, tell him I sent you and remind him about restoring Radhakunda."
The merchant happily returned to his home and then went on to Vraja where he met Sri Raghunatha and explained everything to him. Astonished, Raghunatha gave him permission to restore both Radhakunda and Syamakunda.
On the banks of the kunda grew five trees, which were actually the five Pandavas. Once there was some talk of cutting the trees down, but that night the Pandavas appeared to Raghunatha and forbade the trees to be cut. To this day the trees still grow there.
The devotees were overwhelmed with happiness to see the restoration of Sri Radhakunda and Sri Syamakunda. On the outskirts of these two ponds, groves of the Asta-sakhis were planted.
Raghunatha did not have a fixed residence, but stayed either on the banks of Sri Radhakunda or on the banks of the Manasa Ganga. At that time both places were surrounded by a fearful jungle inhabited by ferocious tigers and other wild beasts.
One day Sri Sanatana Gosvami arrived at the bhajan kutir of Sri Gopala Bhatta Gosvami on the banks of the Manasa Ganga where he would take his midday meal. When going for a bath at Pavan Ghat he saw a tiger very nearby who had just drunk water in the ghat. Just a little further on, Raghunatha dasa sat at the base of a tree deeply absorbed in his bhajan. Sanatana Gosvami was alarmed and requested Raghunatha to practice bhajan in a cottage or hut. From that day on Raghunatha performed his bhajan in his hut.
In Vraja, Sri Radha and Candravali serve Sri Govinda in the mood of parakiya love. They each have unlimited sakhis who assist them in their pastimes. Sri Raghunatha considered himself to be a maidservant in Radha's group, and therefore he never went to Candravali's grove or chatted with any of her friends. In this way he spent his days worshiping Krsna within his mind.
A devotee named Sridasa Vrajavasi used to bring a leaf cup of buttermilk to Raghunatha dasa everyday. Raghunatha would drink his buttermilk and spend the day doing bhajan. One day Sridasa Vrajavasi took some cows to pasture in the garden groves of Srimati Candravali. From that garden he picked some large palasa leaves which he took back to his house. He made leaf cups from the palasa leaves and in one cup he took Raghunatha dasa some buttermilk. Upon receiving the milk Raghunatha enquired about the big leaves. When Sridasa replied that he had got them in the grove of Srimati Candravali, Raghunatha dasa was filled with rage.
He threw the cup of buttermilk on the ground, saying that the followers of Sri Radha never accepted anything from that place. Sridasa was amazed to see Raghunatha dasa Gosvami's firm devotion for Sri Radha.
Raghunatha dasa Gosvami was always engaged in worshiping Sri Radha- Govinda within his mind. One day, in his meditation he prepared and offered sweet-rice to Sri Radha and Krsna. In great happiness They and the gopis ate the sweet rice, and he accepted Their remnants. While he was honoring their Lordship's prasada, he was filled with intense love and ate slightly more than what he was accustomed to. The next day, from morning until late afternoon his door remained closed, causing the devotees some concern. After they knocked repeatedly on his door, it finally opened and they saw him lying down. "My health is not good," he explained to Sridasa.
The devotees were unhappy and immediately sent word to Sanatana Gosvami in Mathura. At that time Sri Sanatana was staying at the house of Vallabha Acarya. Upon hearing the news, Vallabhacarya's son, Sri Viththal, sent two doctors to see Raghunatha dasa at Radha-kunda.
Seeing his condition the physicians insisted that Raghunatha's illness was the result of eating too much sweet rice. The devotee were dumfounded by such a suggestion, but eventually understood the mystery. The worship of Raghunatha dasa Gosvami was very wonderful.
Kavi Karnapura has written in GGD (186) that Sri Raghunatha was Rasamanjari in Krsna lila. According to some other persons he was Ratimanjari or Bhanumati.
Raghunatha dasa wrote many books such as
- Muktacarita, etc.
- He also composed many padas.
He was born in the Saka era of 1428 and left the world in the Saka era of 1504, on the twelfth day of the bright fortnight in the month of Asvina. (CC. 1.10.91-102, 3.6.35-154, GGD. 186, Premavilasa 16.127)
His name has been mentioned in the following texts:
- Vaisnava Vandana of Jiva Gosvami (149-150), of Devakinandana (55), and of Vrndavanadasa (49);
- Krsnacaitanyacaritam of Murari Gupta 4.17.21;
- Karnapura's Caitanyacandrodayanatakam 10.3.; CC. (R.G. Nath ed.) 2.1.269.